The Pursuit of Award-Winning Service Improvement: A Case Study from CGI Federal

CGI Federal is an IT outsourcer for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), providing the ticketing system, service development, Tier III application support, and data processing services for the agency’s Central Data Exchange (CDX). CDX hosts thirty-four unique data collection services, which facilitate the collection of reporting facility information and the curation of collected information for the EPA. These curation services cost the EPA an estimated $0.5M – $1M annually, and they have historically been very resource-intensive, requiring considerable effort on the part of CGI Federal data processing staff and EPA regional data stewards.

What was the situation before the launch of the service improvement initiative?

The EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TPI) program was established in 1986 by the Emergency Response and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). The TRI program requires annual reporting by regulated facilities; the data submitted by these facilities are aggregated, analyzed, and published in the National Analysis in January of the following year. Each year from January 1 through July 1 (TRI’s reporting deadline), approximately 22,000 facilities submit 88,000 chemical reports, with 50% of these submissions being received within five days of the reporting deadline. The TRI program accounts for 25% of CDX’s annual data collection volume.

The data collection process before the launch of the service improvement initiative required the collected data to undergo quality checks to flag records for review by data processing staff prior to being released to back-end EPA systems for regulatory review by policy analysts. Data quality processing consists of two parts:

  1. Facility Reconciliation: Curation of information about the reporting facility. The CDX Data Processing Center performs these services.
  2. Data Quality: Identification of data anomalies and year-to-year inconsistencies that require confirmation or correction by the reporting facility. The EPA TRI program and the EPA regional offices perform these data quality activities.

The challenge for CGI Federal was to introduce digital service changes that would improve the quality of the business processes CDX uses to collect data and perform facility reconciliation tasks, as well as reduce the need for resource-intensive data curation by the CGI data processing center and EPA data stewards. CGI Federal proposed process improvements that would not only reduce the costs associated with annual data collection but also accelerate the availability of the data for the EPA to assess and enforce compliance.

What was the improvement strategy?

Working closely with the EPA, CGI identified opportunities to improve the end-to-end workflow. CGI implemented the EPA CDX ticketing system and was able to discern service-impacting issues represented in both the FTE to manage submission jobs as well as the ticket volumes and time to resolve tickets for submission issues. This reduced the manpower required to support submission jobs, an obvious improvement to the end-user experience with the submission process and improvements to the accuracy and completeness of the data for the EPA.

CGI combined practical business process engineering with innovative technologies and a critical focus on a well-designed project release—featuring effective user-focused training and communications to stakeholders, end users, and the help desk—to ensure the success of this service improvement. The business process improvement focus was on improving the ease of use for submission for end users by introducing a geospatial mapping service so that reporting facilities could visually confirm their facility on a map while the geospatial service standardized the facility address using USPS standardization rules. The geospatial mapping service was implemented as a facility-mapping “widget” so that it could be used across all CDX program services that supply facilities data. In this way, the service improvements realized by the TRI program could then be leveraged more broadly across the EPA.

How was the success of this initiative defined? How has that success affected business objectives?

The service improvements realized through the introduction of the geospatial mapping widget were significant. By all measures, the strategy of transferring facility data quality responsibility to the reporting facility at the front end of the process was successful. TRI records are now ready for submission data quality and regulatory analysis in half the time with fewer people. There was a 12% decrease in help desk tickets and a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction. For the TRI program, this represented $130K annual savings; extrapolating these results across all applicable CDX program services, this represents a potential annual saving of $1.3M.
CGI Federal’s success with this digital business process reengineering effort is being leveraged to design future innovations and service improvements for the EPA. With the success of the geospatial mapping service, help desk records and data processing statistics are once again being mined to identify the next significant service improvement. CGI Federal’s next technology improvements, business process reengineering, and service training have been identified and will be implemented in the next TRI reporting service release: streamlined registration and certification of submissions to the EPA.